People, Not Things: Americans and Healthcare in 2015

Early this week, I was cajoled into reading a recent study by Booz Allen Hamilton that revealed three important trends in how American consumers feel about healthcare. Know what it revealed? First, that the future of healthcare is uncertain. Second, that cost control is paramount. And third, that “technology offers promise for better outcomes!” Well, items 1 and 2 were certainly no surprise. In fact, anxiety over rising healthcare cost has been a staple of the consumer’s daily diet of worries since time began. But, the promise of technology as a solution that might guarantee not just lower cost but higher quality healthcare, well, that’s a horse of a different color!

That’s especially true since the “technology” the study refers to isn’t something as earth shaking as Madam Curie’s discovery of x-rays or the follow-on creation of a non-lethal x-ray machine in 1895. What they’re referring to is Information Technology, specifically a form of telemedicine made possible by the proliferation of everything from smart phones to tablets, to both monitor and participate in the healthcare process. Great idea, I thought! Imagine this exchange, “Doctor, I have this mole that I’m concerned about in a… uh… rather personal place.” “Okay, Mrs. Smith, can you hold your smart phone camera a little closer to your… uh… personal place?” Well, you get my drift.

Marie Curie had a major impact on the direction of healthcare

Marie Curie was a groundbreaking innovator, but even she could never have foreseen modern healthcare IT.

Okay, perhaps that’s a little extreme. But the truth of the matter is that every American has a healthcare dream where there’s a private room in their home occupied by their own personal physician. Seemingly, that’s where the proliferation of Information Technology is heading, at least on the surface. Is that a good idea? Will it really improve outcomes, enhance preventive medicine, and insure healthcare availability? Or will it simply serve to inflate the demand for healthcare that promises an immediate solution for most short term problems that can usually be handled by a hike to the local drug store. Like most innovations, the answer is probably no.

But, it’s certainly something to think about. And while we’re thinking, we might want to remember what Madam Curie said as she was experimenting with technology that eventually killed her. Know what it was? Just this: “In science, we must be interested in things, not in persons.”

Makes you want to yell “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”, doesn’t it?

And speaking of what Robby the robot might also have said, I’d be remiss as a “Healthcare Simulologist” (more about that in the next blog post!) if I didn’t add a few words about the value of simulation. As potentially parochial as the statement “paying close and specific attention to patient outcomes” might seem, it is what healthcare simulation is all about. It’s not about moving material, “Just-in-time” healthcare management, patient process balancing, or Kanban methods. It’s about people — patients and providers alike — who depend on the timely and accurate availability of everything from well-designed facilities to the latest healthcare methods, to achieve the best possible outcomes for every patient they encounter.

That’s why we prescribe FlexSim HC for whatever ails your healthcare system! Why not ask your Simulologist about it today?